ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Facebook post out of Florida inspired workers at UNM Hospital to help the homeless this winter in a unique way. It gives them the chance to use materials from the operating room that would otherwise be thrown out.
The hospital uses surgical wraps in the operating room. Nurses say they are the ideal material because they’re lightweight but retain heat and are waterproof. One of the pediatric nurses here says she was inspired to get to work after seeing Albuquerque’s homeless every day, thus creating the Blue Wrap Project.
“Blue Wrap Project started from a Facebook post about a hospital in Florida that was upcycling the clean, sterile wraps from the OR into sleeping bags for the homeless,” said CeAnne Gonzales, a pediatric registered nurse at UNMH. “Every morning when I come to work, I pass by the park on Third Street and the interstate and see those individuals and always wondered, ‘What can I do?’ When I saw this article for this hospital in Florida, I thought, ‘This is perfect.'”
Gonzales thought it was something needed in the Albuquerque community. The sleeping bags come in a few sizes to fit people of all heights and they’ve already distributed about 70 sleeping bags and 12 blankets.
The Blue Wrap Project is in need of volunteers to sew. To help them out, Gonzales published a how-to video online for anyone who wants to get involved. Those who want to help can message them on Facebook or email Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I provide all the materials, the wraps, we have an inside pocket and the elastic so the only thing the person needs is a sewing machine and thread and time,” said Gonzales. “I can provide the materials, they can sew it whenever they want to and I can come and get them or they can just bring them back to me and then get more materials if they want.”
They plan to make another distribution of sleeping bags and blankets in a few weeks. They are also working on a design for hooded ponchos to give to area homeless.
The project has taken off across the country with many hospitals getting in on the trend to help the homeless in this way. However, Gonzales says, locally, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of everyone who has volunteered their time so far.